How Many Times Should I Take Communion?

Text:  1 Corinthians 11:23-32 

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

After I was newly married, Serenity and I went to one of those Japanese restaurants where they cook on a grill in front of you.  Now, humor me for a moment.  Imagine the chief cooking an extravagant meal right in front of us – flaming the meat, tossing the vegetables, and seasoning everything.  Imagine the smells, hearing the sizzling of the food, and the great display of the chief’s skills.  Imagine all of this and then imagine if the chief finished all the food, put it on a plate, raised the plate to display the great food, and then…. walked away with the food.  I don’t know about you, but I would be rather upset.  I would be even angrier if I were hungry – l would be hangry, as they say.  Obviously, the reason why is that the food was meant to be delivered. The food was meant to be eaten. 

Dear friends, that Holy Thursday long ago, our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night that He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to the disciples and said, 
“Take, eat; this is My body, which is given for you.  This do in remembrance of me.”  
In the same way, also, He took the cup after supper, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying: 
“Drink of it, all of you; this cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.  This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 
Now, did you hear it?  Jesus gave the bread, and He gave the cup to the disciples.  And once He had given the bread and the cup, He told them to eat and to drink.  Indeed, Jesus gave to them and told them to eat and drink.  The disciples were to receive.  

And so, the point that is being made is that the Lord’s Church is to be a hearing, eating, and drinking Church.  The Lord is a distributor of good gifts, and His Church is to be a receiver of the good gifts.  Just as a good husband should give all good things to His bride, Christ gives good gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation to His bride - the Church.  

Unfortunately, though, throughout history, the Church has not always been able to eat and drink.  For example, in the history of America, many churches were established in the tiny towns of the American landscape.  Furthermore, many of these churches did not have a pastor.  And so often times one pastor had to serve many different churches over a very wide geographical area.  As a result, it was very common for a pastor to ride a horse and travel great distances between multiple churches to baptize, perform weddings, and administer communion.  They called these pastors “circuit riders.”  And so it was quite common for a church to only receive communion several times a year when the pastor was able to make it to the Church.  However, with the invention of the car, communion slowly increased in churches from several times a year to monthly. Even though a pastor still had many churches, the pastor became faster with a car.  More ground could be covered. Many decades later, with the advancement of the road system and cars traveling even faster, many churches returned to weekly communion just like the early Church had communion every week in the Book of Acts.  

And so, what’s the point?  It might be easy to say that communion four times a year is the magic number.  Or, one could say that the magic number for communion is every single week.   However, both of these miss the point.  The reason is: the Bible never sets a minimum for how often communion should be offered, nor does the Bible set a limit.  In other words, a Church that drops the hammer saying with authority that communion must be offered every Sunday is just as much in error as churches that says that communion must be offered no more than four times a year. Jesus never stated a number.  He never said four times a year or once a week.  But instead, Jesus used the word, ‘often.’  And the word often means often.  It means many times.  But again, no minimum or maximum was ever set.  Instead, we are only left with Jesus’ gracious invitation to hear, eat, and drink often, with gladness and joy.  

Dear Baptized Saints, we must understand that the Lord instituted the Holy Super, not as a law to be kept as if it is something on a Christian checklist for obtaining a certain level of piety.  Communion is not something on a Christian checklist, nor is it something you and I do to appease God.  In other words, the Lord’s Supper does not belong under the category of the Ten Commandments.  Sure, there are the commands to discern the Lord’s Table and examine ourselves in preparation for the Lord’s Supper, but these commands are there to ensure that we don’t abuse and misuse the gift of the Super.  In other words, they are there to protect the Lord’s Supper from you and me, twisting it into something that it is not.  But again, the Lord’s Supper is not a command that we are to perform or do; instead, the Lord’s Supper is a gift to be received. Jesus tenderly and earnestly invites you and me to Himself for refreshment.  Gifts are meant to be given and received with eager gratitude and joy.  

And so, listen up!  You and I are urged to come often to the Lord’s Table with eager-humility because the Lord wants to give you something.  He wants to forgive you of your sins.  He wants to strengthen your weak faith.   Again, the question is not “How many times must I go to the Lord’s Table,” but instead, the question is, “Why is the Lord so good to me, giving me this gift so often?”  In other words, the Lord’s Table is not about you and me saying, “Ugh, do I really have to receive the Lord’s Supper again?” Instead, it is about you and me saying, 
“Today, I get to hear the Word of God. Today, I get to receive the body and blood of Christ – I get to eat and drink.  God be praised that the Lord has found it in His gracious heart to give to me again and again and again!”
Baptized Saints, this Christian faith is all about hearing, receiving, eating, and drinking.   It is about hearing, receiving, eating, and drinking because you have a Lord who gives you good gifts.  And so, come to this Church and this table, not four times or a 100 times but often – yes, often because the Lord gives His Word to be preached into your ears.  The Lord gave water combined with the Word to be poured upon your heads.  The Lord gives His body to be placed upon your tongues.  The Lord gives His blood to be poured into your mouths.  And we, the Church, receive it often as a sheer gift because you and I know that the Lord has more to give than death, sin, and the devil can take.  Indeed, death, sin, and the devil cannot limit or overextend the graciousness of our giving Lord.  

I once heard a pastor say that Church is nothing more than beggars coming to receive free warm bread.  And that evangelism is nothing more than one beggar telling the other beggar where the free warm bread is.  This pastor is correct.  We are here to eat and drink as beggars.  And the Lord is here to give Himself to you and me in-with-and-under the bread and wine as our gracious and generous Master.  And the best part?  We can come as often as we want or need because the Lord never stops giving His good gifts to you and me.    

Take and eat; take and drink!  Receive the forgiveness, life, and salvation of Christ that is given to you in this blessed Sacrament that was instituted for you that Holy Thursday long ago.  

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

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